The Death of a Castle, the Birth of a Book

I was saddened to learn today that Castle Miranda (also known as Château de Noisy) in Belgium was slated to be torn down this month. Back in 2012 I stumbled across the gorgeous pictures from PROJ3CT M4YH3M of this heart-breaking, beautiful, decaying castle. The ceilings especially inspired me to put pen to paper and write the scene in my novel Glimmer of Steel where Jennica comes to terms with her fate while staring up at her bedroom’s ceiling.

Since I don’t own any of the copyrights for the images I saw back in 2012, nor have I paid for licensing rights, I have the next best thing… links to the owners’ sites so you can hop over a view them yourself.

The first link is for a website (in German) with historical photos/drawings of the Castle in its original state. http://www.lipinski.de/noisy-historical/index.php

The second link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s website page that covered their first visit to Castle Miranda in 2012: 

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – December 2012 (Part 1)

The third link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s second visit in 2014:

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – May 2014 (revisit)

So just as I’m getting ready to release Glimmer of Steel to Kindle Scout this month, and I’m looking for Castle Miranda pictures to share as an important visual inspiration for my writing, I learned the castle is being dismantled. Pascal Dermien recently photographed the start of the demolition and shared his photos on YouTube. You can see former turrets cast upon the ground, including the weather vane that used to spin atop the highest peak. Only the blogs, and photographs, memories, videos, and the occasional book will live on.

The Book That Inspired My Author Adventure

watershipdownWe all know every writer started as a reader. Recently a writer friend of mine shared that the book she read in middle school that kicked off her interest in writing for children was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I agree that book is a serious favorite of mine too. I named my first two-wheel bike Charlotte after all. But for me, if I have to narrow down from all the books I read as a kid, (everything from To Kill A Mockingbird to Salem’s Lot) the one book that inspired me the most was Watership Down by Richard Adams.

The blurb from Sparknotes does not do this novel any favors:

Watership Down is the tale of a group of rabbits in search of a home. Fiver, a small, young rabbit, has a gift: He can tell when things are going to happen and he can sense whether they will be good or bad. Fiver foresees great danger to the rabbits’ home warren.

 

Bunny Metaphors Abound

Bunny Metaphors Abound. Photo credit Irina Blaski 2016.

The book is So. Much. More. Maybe part of my affection stems from the fact that my favorite teacher in middle school passed along her personal copy to me, encouraging me to dive deep within its pages to find the story beneath the story. Shout out to Mrs. Monroe @Summit Hill Junior High for lighting the fire within this little girl. Honestly it took her a couple weeks of pestering for me to give this book a chance just because the back cover blurb was so lame.

Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. And so began my love of reading and writing stories that are more than what they seem on the surface, stories with nuance that warrant a second, and third reading.

Richard Adams wrote Watership Down in 1972. From his Amazon Author Page:

Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is an English novelist, author of Watership Down, Shardik, Maia, The Plague Dogs, Traveller, Tales from Watership Down and many other books.

He originally began telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters during a long car journey, and they insisted he write it down. When Watership Down was finally published, after many rejections, it sold over a million copies in record time in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Watership Down has become a modern classic and won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1972. To date it has sold over 8 million copies and been translated into many languages, including Finnish, Hebrew and Chinese.

And yes, he’s still alive and kicking at 96 years old. [UPDATE Richard Adams passed away the day after Christmas, 2016 a mere three months after my original post. His obituary can be found http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-38446309. RIP.]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Adams

Adams reads from Watership Down at a 2008 exhibition of Aldo Galli paintings, Photo Credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Adams

One of my favorite interviews with him is from The Telegraph, originally published in 2014, in which he tells us that when his publisher accepted the manuscript (after rejections from seven other publishers) “This blew a trumpet in my heart.”
Great line, right? It’s the same feeling I get when a four or five star review for any of my work hits Goodreads!
Another of my favorite Adams quotes is from an interview with Alison Flood of The Guardian just last year, where he said, “I do not believe in talking down to children. Readers like to be upset, excited and bowled over.”
Nothing wrong with a little heart-pumping excitement or a good, cleansing cry while turning the pages of a book.
Which book started your author journey? Share in the comments!

Editing Magic

First Try Perfection © Mihail Orlov

First Try Perfection © Mihail Orlov

If only I could spin a perfect yarn as quickly and efficiently as Miss Spider spins her web. Now don’t get me wrong. I can crank out a few thousand words a day just like any other red-blooded writer. Maybe not as many as Rachel Aaron. I still have my day job. But on a good Saturday when The Spouse takes on chauffeur duty and I’m left with My Muse, a cup of tea, and a quiet house, I can hit 3,500- 5,000 words easy.

Mr. Kitty, Writing Muse

Mr. Kitty, Writing Muse

Quantity is easy. Quality is hard work.

One of my recent editing endeavors involved rewriting a Young Adult Sci-Fantasy novel from third-person past point-of-view to first-person present and back again. I honestly don’t know which version I like better now, but I can tell you the “new” third-person version is far more intimate and thoughtful simply from going through the process. So painstakingly, for the last few months, I’ve taken a Middle-Grade Dystopian that I wrote a couple years back and I have edited and re-edited, written, revised, and re-written, gutted and reassembled, stacked, unstacked, and re-stacked, until this,

The mess before the magic

The mess before the magic

Became this,

The middle is looking a little light.

The middle is looking a little light.

Became this.

The beauty of organization.

The beauty of organization.

First try perfection is definitely not my thing. Revising and editing? That’s when the magic happens. Now enough writing about editing. Time to get the job done.